Feature / 26 Jan 2023

Keeping up with the customs

Today (26 January) marks the 30th annual celebration of International Customs Day.

Organised by the World Customs Organisation which represents 184 customs administrations and more than 98% of world trade, International Customs Day honours the central role that commerce and customs teams play behind the scenes, keeping people and goods moving around the world.

Customs clearance teams facilitate international trade by ensuring goods are properly declared and taxed so that they can be sent to their destinations efficiently and on time. They also keep us safe by enforcing laws and regulations such as customs fraud, smuggling and counterfeit goods.

With more than 300 offices in over 50 countries worldwide, GAC’s global footprint means our teams are well-versed in all manner of local customs regulations and requirements at both the origin and destination of shipments.

Our teams work around the clock at major seaports and airports to handle international trade commodities by sea, air and land freight, ensuring that our customers and the cargo they are importing or exporting are best served.

GAC Air Freight CT20

As a leading provider of integrated shipping and logistics services, GAC’s know-how and operational excellence in customs clearance has been recognised with various awards, including the Best Customs Clearance Brokerage Company in Qatar in 2019.

At its core, this comes down to the efficiency, expertise and collaboration of our customs teams around the globe. As the industry continues to digitalise and lean towards automation, the human element plays an even more important role than ever.

Learning culture
The theme for this year’s International Customs Day is ‘Nurturing the Next Generation: Promoting a Culture of Knowledge-Sharing and Professional Pride in Customs’: something we are proud to have deep-rooted in our culture.

At GAC, we are committed to investing in our people to give them the knowledge and experience to ensure efficient and timely clearance of our customers’ goods in accordance with the country’s laws, regulations and customs procedures.

Here is what some of our customs staff around the world have to say about their roles and the culture in GAC on this special day:

Zoe Cheong, Operations Assistant, GAC Guyana

“GAC’s teamwork helps a great deal in ensuring that we meet our customers’ deadlines and get goods and services delivered on time. Without the team, we wouldn’t be able to provide excellent services.”

Zoë Cheong Admin and Operations Assistant for GAC Caribbean

Curlene St Clair, Customs Clerk/ Operations Coordinator, GAC Trinidad & Tobago

“Customs is more than just paperwork. It is the people, process and professionalism behind protecting a country’s borders.”

Curlene St Clair Customs Clerk Grade 3 GAC Caribbean

Armando Rodriguez, Operations Coordinator, GAC Panama

“As a team leader, it is my responsibility to stay up to date on local customs regulations and keep my team informed. Through teamwork, we continue to provide the highest standards of logistics services to meet our customers' needs and deliver excellent results.”

Armando Rodriguez Husbandry Supervisor GAC Panama

Jennifer Hsieh, Operation Assistance Manager, Air Department, GAC Taiwan

I handle ship spares logistics shipments and it’s a job that requires technical know-how and experience in customs. I’m glad to have a good team in GAC who works closely with one another to provide professional solutions to our clients. These include managing the arrival of shipments, arranging for delivery onto vessels and ensuring smooth customs clearance.”

Jennifer S 18440200

Henry De Silva, General Manager, Freight Forwarding & Logistics, GAC Sri Lanka

“Driven by the GAC vision to provide leadership and innovation, I believe in the saying: ‘Knowledge increases by sharing, not by saving‘. As the head of Customs House Brokering team at GAC Sri Lanka with over 20 years of experience in customs brokering, I strive to promote knowledge sharing and best practices across my team to help them grow, find their true potential and create value for the company and society.”


Nitesh Salap, Senior Executive – CHA, GAC India

“Customs is an authority that safeguards the revenue and interest of the nation, and I’m proud to have worked in this industry for the last two decades. At GAC India, the care for employees and clients stands out, as does the importance given to professionalism, compliance and ethics.

The critical shipments we cleared for recent projects proved our capabilities and dedication. Our managers guided and motivated us, and were a part of all our team operations. This ensured clearance of goods in full compliance with customs regulations and in good time.”

Nitesh Salap Image Copy

Saowarin Nanta, Customs Broker, GAC Thailand

“As Customs Brokers, we are responsible for checking the accuracy of documents and correctness of products before guiding the shipments through customs formalities and deliveries. It’s crucial that colleagues and suppliers work together to get the job done successfully and smoothly.”

Saowarin Nanta

Riya Bandodkar, Customer Service Supervisor, GAC Ras Al Khaimah

“Customs clearance or clearing customs is a phrase we often hear in our logistics business. For over 14 years in GAC Ras Al Khaimah, I have encountered many changes in the customs system and provided value-added services and timely delivery to our customers.

Training new generations has been my motto, and today's generation with bright, energetic and receptive personalities plays an integral part in the growth and success of the business. Let's join and share knowledge on this International Customs Day by promoting the Customs culture!”

Riya Bandodkar edit greybg

Vinod Kumar, Manager – Clearing and Forwarding/ Logistics Services, GAC Sharjah

“Customs clearance plays a crucial part in the logistics business. In my 30+ years of experience with GAC Sharjah, I witnessed many changes in customs clearance rules and regulations in the UAE. It is our job to be familiar with these requirements which can change according to the nature or movement of the shipment and its purpose.

Encouraging the team to suggest the most effective customs clearance solution by understanding customer requirements and adhering to the local rules and regulations makes us stand out among others. We are the customs clearance expert. On this International Customs Day, let us have the vision to nurture the team further as customs clearance solution makers.”

Vinod Kumar GAC Sharjah

This International Customs Day, GAC UK recognises its 40-strong team who processed over 38,000 declarations in 2022 – a 125% increase from what was processed pre-Brexit in 2019. This was made possible by the GAC team that is passionate, hardworking and eager to deliver excellent customer service. Apart from maintaining compliance, we aim to promote a culture of knowledge-sharing and professional pride, and conduct continuous training to ensure our staff are confident in meeting customers’ needs.

All colleagues are encouraged to complete additional education through our ongoing partnership with Global Customs Academy and the Institute of Export and International Trade. 45 GAC UK employees have since completed Global Customs Academy courses ranging from Level 2 through to Level 4. In particular, Key Accounts Lead Ibolya Bereczki (pictured) recently completed the Level 5 Global Customs Academy course and earned a Diploma in Advanced Customs Compliance.

Ibolya Bereczki GAC UK

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